December 15, 2012
by Canadian Architect
Montreal-based LEMAY has made history by winning a high-profile international competition launched by l’Agence de gestion et de régulation foncière urbaine de la Wilaya de Constantine en Algérie. The $2.4-billion project, will have $1.57 billion devoted to the residential sector.
Algerian government officials recently confirmed the awarding of this contract to the Canadian team made up of the consortium of firms LEMAY and EXP. This was reported today by LEMAY’s President, Louis T. Lemay, who added that the urban concept created by the LEMAY-EXP team was chosen unanimously by the jury of experts. Their winning proposal stood out for its excellence, its relevance, its originality and its audacity; its competitors consisted of international firms from Europe, Asia, America and Africa.
Senior partner and creative director of LEMAY’s urban design studio, Michel Lauzon, described how the future area of El-Minya will be a multifunctional and autonomous urban agglomeration on a 47-hectare plateau directly in front of the heritage city of Constantine, the third-most important city in Algeria, and the North African country’s cultural capital, located some 431 km east of Algiers. The city will house more than 20,000 residents, as well as various offices, shops, recreation centers and schools for a growing population of workers, visitors and tourists.
Lauzon added that this prized mandate involves the planning and development of a new neighbourhood, and fits within a distinctive World Heritage global development plan. The new Constantine neighbourhood will extend over an area of 1.2 million square metres. The overall development plan includes the architecture and construction of major city elements such as the public spaces and the traffic networks. The project of 6,500 to 7,500 housing units will be adapted to a contemporary lifestyle.
As the lead designer of the project, Lauzon said the proposal entitled “Once Upon a Time in El-Minya” stands out for its unique visual signature that will be visible on the walls and pathways in the old city. The iconic silhouette of the new city of El-Minya is inspired by the sinuous lines of Arabic calligraphy and by the walls of medieval cities. The new city’s architecture will have a contemporary billing, but its innovative arrangement will be based on urban traditions and ancestral characteristics typical of the cultural landscape in Maghreb, including features such as a “medina” – a traditional courtyard at the center of the Kasbahs and Arab towns of North Africa.
The concept of the “new medinas” in the development plan will reflect the cultural characteristics of Maghrebian landscapes. The design will include clear distinctions between private and public spaces and between openness and privacy.
Finally, El-Minya is a model city in its ecological planning, based on leading best practices in sustainable development, especially in terms of reducing dependency on cars, and promoting the integration of large open independent green spaces that have been planned in order to promote biodiversity, all in the heart of an urban lifestyle.
Lemay concluded by saying that this project, which will be carried out with LEMAY’s signature expertise will meet the population’s needs perfectly, in the creation of the new neighbourhood of El-Minya, a place that is set to become a richly diversified living environment for the people of Constantine.
Founded in 1957, Lemay is a veteran of Canadian architecture that quickly understood how to adopt a global vision of its discipline, by proposing an integrated service that includes various fields from urban design to furniture design, as well as landscape architecture, branding, graphic design, interior design and architecture. Lemay is at the heart of numerous major projects in Montreal that have transformed the metropolitan region, such as the Centre CDP Capital, the Complexe Les Ailes, 1000 De la Gauchetière, and the Centre Bell.
once upon a time in el-minya proposal by lemay